August 1857-June 1858

The Collected Letters, Volume 33


TC TO LORD ASHBURTON ; 31 August 1857; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18570831-TC-LOA-01; CL 33: 62-63


Chelsea, 31 Augt, 1857–

Dear Lord Ashburton,

Thanks for your two Notes; any word with that date to it brings a strangely interesting scene before me.1 I calculate never to see it with eyes again; but to the mind I think it will long be visible little less distinctly than if I stood in the midst of it.— I hope you will drive away the gout into remote corners not to return easily; that will be one excellent effect of roaming on those mountains; in other respects I could more willingly fancy you nearer home. As I hope you will be before long.

London is very sultry, close, and altogether deserted by fashionable mankind. The other day my ride led me thro' streets, St James's, past your House; I did not see one figure definable reasonably as a gentleman; few in clean clothes, indeed few of any description. As I cross the Park there are still about 10 or 15 male and female persons ambling or cantering in Rotten Row,—an extremely melancholy business for them, I should think, the Row admitting not a breath of wind into it; no comfort in it for either horse or man.— I am, as I was & shall be, overwhelmed with Printers' devils and their adjuncts; I ride as one swallows black-draught;2 and have no hope left but the humble one of getting this intolerable burden tumbled off if I can hold out for a twelvemonth more. My Wife is as it were on the way homewards,—at Haddington again, 16 miles of the road accomplished;—rather better she herself admits, but still very feeble, and shuddering at the long journey,—with nothing but delirious machinery round one, and no breathing except of foul air! I hope to see her again, on some tolerable terms, within a week or so. Lady Sandwich called last Sunday; I had not seen her since the night I was at Addiscomb:— I fancied to myself she was looking very well this last time after her country visits. I promised to go and dine some day, “to drive Fritz out of my head,” as the ostensible object was. She has wonderful spirit,—tho' a transient cloud comes over her at times, and the old eyes fill with tears.

The Indian Affairs hang like a millstone on me,—if I did not shake them off altogether: what have I to do with them? It seems to me neither greased Cartridges,3 nor Coll Wheeler,4 nor our procedures in Oude,5 nor any other mysterious Secondary cause is worth talking of in the presence of a most clear and patent primary cause, an Army with Officers of the Imaginary sort! That is an Entity capable of fermenting into results of any amount of misery and horror. And nobody seems to think of it much. Nor is it or anything else much likely to be amended by the present “wisest Nation in the world,”—whh has no thought that God Almighty has appointed Laws which even England cannot permanently set at defiance and ignore without going to—! But it is past midnight; and I for my part ought to go to bed.— — Pray offer my respects and remembrances to Lord Sandwich if he will accept them. Yours always, T. Carlyle